Havana Aquarium, Miramar

HavanaAquariumMiramar1A Cuban family outing!

Its the weekend in Havana. The city is full of tourists sitting sipping Cuba Libre and Mojitas in old Havana’s street side restaurants and cafes.
The air is hot and the breeze from the sea is only slightly cooling!
Young men and children plunge into the sea as it laps against the walls of the Malecon, down by the harbour these brave young men are delighting in the freshness and excitement that being in the sea brings. The only way to learn to swim is to take the plunge in the open sea!!

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Cuban families living in Havana don’t have many options for days out!
Going anywhere costs money and there is no sandy beach in Havana city for a cheap beach party.

Havana does have an Aquarium in Miramar and that can certainly entertain the family group!
The entrance is cheap and there are buses that stop outside the gates!

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Sadly not much information about the animals housed inside is displayed! It’s a case of looking, watching, asking friends if they know what names of the creatures are in the tanks, or even drawing some and finding out at school next week!

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Highlights are the shows! Dolphins and Sea Lions jump through hoops and balance balls on their noses while the crowds cheer and laugh in the blazing sun.

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Turtles seems to thrive in the murky waters of the central pond but their lives are not unmolested! Poked and prodded they endure manhandling from the children who know no better and from adults who should know better! Guards sleep in the shadows….

Wild Pelikans drop by for a snooze in the shade, but they are freeagents!!

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If you are a tourist you can take the Hop On Hop off bus tour and spend some time at the Aquarium or take a taxi!

Tourist price is in CUC convertible pesos locals in MN moneda nacional.

Have you tried our virtual bus tour?  Click on this link to Hop on the bus!
http://encompasstours.com/2013/04/virtual-havana-bus-tour/

Why not join us on tour and see Cuba for yourself

A Cuban Snapshot 7 day holiday
http://encompasstours.com/tours/cuba/a-cuban-snapshot-7-days/

Mi Cubita 14 day holiday
http://encompasstours.com/tours/cuba/mi-cubita-cuba14-days/

Home Cooking!

Local, Nutritious & Delicious….Home cooking in Cuba!

The fashion these days, here in Britain, is for cooking and eating with an emphasis on “seasonal produce” and even better “locally sourced”! We are asked to appreciate the extra time and effort that obtaining these ingredients necessitates, and we seem to be more than willing to dig into our pockets and pay extra for this privilege!! It’s a big selling point! We will however, quite likely, accompany our meal with a good French or Italian wine and a Costa Rican coffee with a “fare trade” label, the pepper used to season will be imported and the Olive oil in the salad dressing will not be from a British olive grove! Well…these inconsistencies we allow, and we feel we have had a more healthy and nutritious meal that has contributed to our local economy.

How marvellous then to arrive in Cuban and find that the cuisine is 100% seasonal and 98% local produce!  Oh the advantages of island life with a US trade embargo!! You can be certain that your food has come straight from the land and that pig you hear squealing over the wall is going to reappear on your plate as a succulent and delicious meal!

Obviously, living in a country where the season dictates your flavours means that dishes change with the available ingredients and menus likewise.  Your holidays are for experiencing new flavours and we at encompass tours, aim to offer you the chance to eat the best and typical dishes of Cuba. The lovely ladies of the “casa particulars” take a great pride in being able to offer you their best and favourite dishes, and never has it been more true that “necessity is the mother of invention”.  Recipes are passed down the family and any Cuban will tell you his Mamas cooking is the best!! Neighbours help out with ingredients and cooking utensils and food is the major preoccupation of most Cubans.

As a tourist you will be able to eat foods forbidden to local people!!!! Lobster and Beef are for the tourists and the government owns all the cows and keep a check on them!! Occasionally an unfortunate beast might get “hit by a train” and as food is in short supply, there will be no time wasted in dividing up the carcass among the local community.  Fish can be hard to source, which will surely come as a surprise as most cities are a stone’s throw from the ocean. This is because no Cuban fishing fleet exists for fear of someone running away to Miami!  People do however fish from the shore and go out in tiny “rowing boat” type vessels to catch some fish and earn a little extra money. Cubans get their food on the ration card that has existed since the liberation forces ousted Batista in the revolution of 1959. That covers their basic commodities per head of population, but 4 eggs a week do not go far, and last year the Casto regime announced that the rations were to be cut. Getting enough food can be a daily chore for a lot of inner city families.

These days Farmers markets are growing in popularity and your host families will be able to buy the extras ingredients needed to feed tourists. Tasty plantain, sweet potatoes, yucca, cassava, pumpkin, beans, an assortment of “greens”, coconut, garlic, sweet peppers and various herbs will make memorable dishes.  Fruits such as oranges, lemons, bananas, pineapple, fruita bomba (papaya to us, but you can’t say that in Cuba!), melon, guava and lemons make delicious juices for your breakfasts.

By far the best cuisine in Cuba is to be found in the home and not in the restaurants whose menus are repetitive and boring and service…how can I describe it….erratic?. You might find the only dish available from the 20 or so listed on the menu, are the two containing ham, cheese and chicken! If you are a vegetarian or vegan eating in “casa” is really your only way to survive.  Cubans like meat and don’t understand vegetarianism; many don’t eat vegetable at all as they can’t afford them!

A typical dish called “Ropa Vieja” is a stew of shredded meat onion and some sweet peppers with seasoning, and translates as “old clothes”. Rice is eaten daily and the most popular dishes are known as “Moros y Christianos” which could be interpreted as “blacks and whites” as it’s made with black beans, while “Congri” is made with red beans.

Eating in Cuba can be a challenge, but the results are worth waiting for! Join us on tour and taste the flavours of Cuba!
“A Cuban Sanpshot” 7 days tour
http://encompasstours.com/tours/a-cuban-snapshot-7-days/
“Mi Cubita” 14 day tour
http://encompasstours.com/tours/mi-cubita-cuba14-days/